Race abuse fan gets three year ban
A Manchester United fan who hurled racist abuse at a black player was today fined £200 and banned from football matches for three years.
Howard Hobson, 57, shouted numerous racial slurs and made monkey noises at Stoke City's Trinidad-born player Kenwyne Jones.
Hobson was in the North Stand at Old Trafford for the game against Stoke on January 31, Trafford Magistrates Court heard.
The defendant was asked to explain his actions by JPs after pleading guilty to a single charge of a racially aggravated public order offence.
"I'm not racist," he told the bench. "I have coloured people in my family and most of my best mates are coloured. I don't know what came over me. I'm deeply sorry."
Eileen Rogers, prosecuting, told the court Hobson's behaviour was brought to the attention of club stewards at the match by a witness sitting near the defendant. After the half-time interval when Hobson returned to his seat he was spoken to by stewards and taken away and then transferred to a police station in Salford.
Hobson, of Weaver Walk, Openshaw, Manchester, admitted making some comments about the Stoke player "in the heat of the moment" and accepted he used the words, "black bastard". He said he could not remember using the words "w**" or "monkey" but accepted what the witness had reported him as saying.
Hobson was fined £200 and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £85 court costs. The football banning order means he is not allowed to enter a football ground in England and Wales for three years or he could be arrested and he must surrender his passport when England play internationals abroad.
Greater Manchester Police said Hobson's ban would give him time to think about his "disgusting outbursts" and send a "clear message" against racism at football grounds.
Stretford-based Superintendent Jim Liggett said: "Hobson's racist tirade was a shocking reminder that there remain a tiny minority of football supporters who still think it is acceptable to abuse players just because of the colour of their skin. I am grateful to the genuine football supporter who heard Hobson's abuse and quickly brought it to the attention of the stewards. It is fans like this who are the true supporters of the game, not people like Hobson."